Recently, Vice President Mike Pence attracted scrutiny when he visited the Mayo Clinic and violated their policy admonishing all visitors to wear a mask while at the facility. He was repeatedly photographed as the only member of his group without a mask, despite the clear guidelines from the clinic for all visitors to wear a mask amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. The vice president’s office’s efforts to shield Pence from scrutiny have apparently reached such a fever pitch that they have threatened a reporter with punitive loss of press privileges for simply noting that, in connection to the same trip, all reporters had been clearly admonished to wear a mask no matter any claims from the Pences of simple ignorance.
1) Pence doesn't wear mask at Mayo Clinic 2) Wife says they didn't know 3) Reporter tweets that VP office warned press pool masks would be required 4) VP threatens to ban reporter from future trips @farhip https://t.co/BtowZg8rPN
— Greg Miller (@gregpmiller) May 1, 2020
The point of contention is that Pence’s office alleges that the tweet about pre-trip guidance for journalists violates the off-the-record provisions of the planning materials in question. The original tweet, posted in response to a post reporting on Second Lady Karen Pence’s claim that the vice president initially didn’t even know about the mask policy, reads:
‘All of us who traveled with him were notified by the office of @VP the day before the trip that wearing of masks was required by the @MayoClinic and to prepare accordingly.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) April 30, 2020
The reporter, Steve Herman with the Voice of America (VOA) outlet, has shared that the White House Correspondents Association relayed to him that the vice president’s office had supposedly banned him from flying on Air Force Two, the official aircraft for the vice president’s entourage. A spokesperson for the vice president’s office has countered that any final punitive punishments over Herman’s tweet are still under deliberation.
Mike Pence's office has threatened to retaliate against a reporter who revealed that Pence's office had told journalists they would need masks for Pence's visit to the Mayo Clinic — a requirement Pence himself did not follow. https://t.co/K5Gzi1uXDG
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) May 1, 2020
In response to scrutiny, Herman shared:
‘My tweet speaks for itself. We always have and will strictly adhere to keeping off the record any White House communications to reporters for planning purposes involving logistics that have security implications prior to events… All White House pool reporters, including myself and my VOA colleagues, take this very seriously.’
Their seriousness contrasts strikingly with the vice president’s own glib dismissal of mask-wearing during his time at the Mayo Clinic. The idea that he didn’t even know about the mask policy gets even more laughable when considering that every single other person around him had one on while he was there.
Remember when the Mayo Clinic deleted their mask tweet because Pence decided masks were for losers? I remember it, it was today. pic.twitter.com/HV0eSYbWRi
— Molly Jong-Fast🏡 (@MollyJongFast) April 28, 2020
Herman’s outlet, which is a public broadcaster, added that his reporting figures in their mission to provide an honestly comprehensive portrait of government operations. They shared:
‘VOA adheres to the highest journalist standards. The VOA Charter, adopted by the U.S. Congress in 1976 and signed by President Gerald Ford, requires VOA news to ‘be accurate, objective, and comprehensive’ and that includes truthful coverage of the U.S. government and its policies. VOA’s credibility relies on presenting ‘a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions,’ as the Charter states.’
A reminder: As China cracked down on whistleblower doctors, the Trump admin was suppressing #coronavirus testing, classifying coronavirus meetings to shut out experts, and overruling and even placing gag orders on health officials who wanted to speak out.https://t.co/TWEoGmBthM
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) May 1, 2020
The Trump administration has repeatedly fumbled basic public health aspects of the Coronavirus response. Trump has even taken to referring to calls for ramped up Coronavirus testing as a “false talking point,” but it’s basic reality.
Trump: I don’t think anybody’s done a better job with testing.
Capitol Doctor: We don't have the capacity to test all 100 senators.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) May 1, 2020